Road to the Breeders’ Cup Teleconference for July 16
Road to the Breeders’ Cup Teleconference for July 16
Penelope Miller: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the NTRA National Media Road to the Breeders’ Cup teleconference. This begins our Road to the Breeders’ Cup series. Today’s guests are trainer Todd Pletcher, trainer Michael Matz, and jockey Chantal Sutherland.
Trainer Todd Pletcher is no stranger to the Saratoga winner’s circle. He’s claimed the Training Title at the Spa in 1998, from 2002 through 2006, and from 2010 through 2012. On top of that, he has also set a record for number of wins in 2003, then tied his own record in 2004, and set a new record again in 2010. This year, at opening weekend, Todd Pletcher will have Kentucky Oaks winner, Princess of Sylmar, as well as third place finisher in the Kentucky Oaks, Unlimited Budget, going forward in the TVG Coaching Club American Oaks, as well as Authenticity in the Shuvee. Additionally, Todd will have two-year-old fillies Yes Liz and Elena Strikes in the Schuylerville on opening day at the Spa this Friday.
Penelope Miller: Hey, Todd, thank you for joining us today. You’re well known at Saratoga for premiering some talented two-year-olds at the Spa. How many juveniles do you have with you this year?
Todd Pletcher: We’ve got quite a few. We have currently about 100 horses at Saratoga, and roughly 40 two-year-olds.
Penelope Miller: Wow, so you’ve got some excitement for us in the future, we hope
Todd Pletcher: Of course, you never know until you run them, but, yes, we think we have a solid group and anticipate to be as successful as we were last year with our juveniles. That would be hard to match, but at this time we’re still optimistic.
Penelope Miller: Absolutely. With so many training titles to your credit at Saratoga, can you just talk a little bit about what the racetrack’s 150th anniversary means to you, as you’re looking forward to getting the meet started?
Todd Pletcher: Well, I think just the fact that it’s been here successfully for 150 years kind of tells everything. I mean, not many things last over an extended period of time like that, and to maintain its top level of racing over such a long time is amazing, and a real tribute to Saratoga.
Penelope Miller: Absolutely. And is there something in particular that you look forward to for Saratoga each year, as you get ready to leave?
Todd Pletcher: Well it’s always an exciting time of year because there’s a lot of two-year-olds getting ready to run. The two-year-old list is as good as it is anywhere in the world, and that’s always exciting, when you’re debuting horses and you’re seeing what you potentially have for later in the year, and next year.
Danny Brewer: Princess of Sylmar, she had five wins and a second, coming into the Oaks—or no, she had four wins and a second coming into the Kentucky Oaks. She’s a little bit overlooked. And of course she knocked them dead there. Is this a chance for her to continue to validate herself in the Coaching Club American Oaks?
Todd Pletcher: I think it definitely is. She kind of came in to the Oaks under the radar a little bit because she spent the winter in New York and then was second in the prep for the Kentucky Oaks, but, you know we weren’t surprised that she was able to pull off the win. I think at the time everyone considered it to be one of the strongest Kentucky Oaks we’ve seen in a long time, and I think with another strong performance, she’d certainly validate herself as a lead material filly for sure.
Danny Brewer: Thanks. She now has a shot at Coaching Club American Oaks, so she’s good flesh, in great shape?
Todd Pletcher: She’s doing really well, loved the way she’s been trained, and she’s coming up to the race in really good order.
Danny Brewer: Unlimited Budget, was the Belmont a building block for this horse? Did you find something out about her?
Todd Pletcher: Well, I don’t really know if a building block would be the right way to describe it. You know, we kind of—Mike Repole wants to win at Belmont, he’s a New York guy, and we decided to take a calculated risk, and I don’t think she ran poorly, it’s just a mile and a half was maybe a little beyond her scope, so I think cutting back to a mile maybe should suit her well, and her record prior to that was outstanding, and like I said, she didn’t run poorly in the Belmont either.
Danny Brewer: Todd, I appreciate the time and I wish you the best of luck.
David Grenning: Todd, if Yes Liz will be coming back on 16 days’ rest in the Schuylerville, is she definitely going to run, and just what have you seen from her in the short period of time she’s had between races that gives you confidence to run her (inaudible).
Todd Pletcher: I’ve got to talk to the connections on making a final decision that both fillies will run. One of the things we’re trying to figure out is, you know, how to keep some of their fillies possibly separated, or run in the right spots, and Stonestreet has another filly named Ari the Adventurer that was pretty impressive in her debut and she’s pointing for the Adirondacks. So there’s a chance that we’ll have to run two of these fillies against each other at some point, and we just want to give ourselves as much time as possible to sort it out. But both fillies have been in the Schuylerville, they’re doing very well, and I’m not overly concerned about running back from a slightly short rest, if we decide to do that.
David Grenning: What impressed you about Elena Strikes at Monmouth, and did she go to Monmouth just because the races weren’t filling in New York at the time and …
Todd Pletcher: She was ready to run, and just from a timing standpoint, you know, that’s when she was ready to run, and I think a race had filled, actually, in New York maybe a day or two prior to that, so she didn’t actually get it okayed from the gate until after they’d already picked entries at Belmont. Anyway, she went to Monmouth in hopes that she would perform well and possibly set her up for the Schuylerville, and I think she performed well, she came out of it good, she’s trained really well since then, and I think she’ll appreciate the additional furlong.
David Grenning: And just one last thing, regarding the Oaks on Saturday, your riding assignments are somewhere (inaudible) I guess, with Delaware, with Javier Castellano, or Johnny V.
Todd Pletcher: Johnny will ride Unlimited Budget and Javier will ride Princess of Sylmar.
David Grenning: And one last thing—Authenticity, entries tomorrow for two races, possibly. Would she enter both and give yourself more time to decide … (cross talking).
Todd Pletcher: It is a possibility that we’ll enter in both spots. You know, we’re definitely going to enter the Shuvee, and we’re going to take a look at entries tomorrow at Delaware and see what’s going on there, but she’s under consideration for both races at the moment but leaning slightly towards the Shuvee.
Jennie Rees: Todd, you did mention the two-year-old racing and I’m wondering if you could give us any sort of insights on maybe some unraced two-year-olds that you might be unleashing at Saratoga, like, you know, do you have another Indian Charlie in the barn, or something that we might—you know, some horses that you have high expectations for?
Todd Pletcher: You know, we entered a couple of fillies for Mike Repole, (inaudible) have been training well. I think right now that our two-year-old fillies are slightly more advanced than some of the colts, some of the colts are a little later coming in, and we’ve had a tremendous amount of rain here all spring and early summer, and that’s kind of—maybe has us slightly behind schedule with a few, so we’re probably a couple weeks away from any horses you’d be wanting to put on the Derby watch list already.
Jennie Rees: Okay. Well, if that’s the case, then maybe we could talk about your three-year-old colts. I know it’s a little bit off but you’ve still got one for the Haskell and one for the Jim Dandy. Could you give us a Verrazano and a Palace Malice update?
Todd Pletcher: Palace Malice breezed again here on Sunday, he’s doing super, but like—but if anything, he’s just getting better and better and has moved forward since the Belmont. He’s trained really well. We’re excited about running him in the Jim Dandy. Verrazano breezed yesterday, we liked his race in the Pegasus, and hopefully it’s setting him up well for the Haskell. We’re looking forward to trying it again in (inaudible) company and hopefully can continue to do as well as he’s done.
Marcus Hersch: Hey, Todd. Charming Kitten, Secretariat?
Todd Pletcher: I haven’t really had a chance to talk to Mr. Ramsey about what our plans are. I would say that the possibility is either the Hall of Fame at Saratoga or the Secretariat at Arlington.
Marcus Hersch: And that would be the same for Jack Milton, then, too?
Todd Pletcher: No, I actually have had a chance to speak to Gary Barber and we’re putting Jack Milton for the Secretariat.
Marcus Hersch: Okay. Would you have any other horses you know at this time that you’d be shipping out for that series of races here?
Todd Pletcher: Right now, he is the only candidate.
Marcus Hersch: Okay, but it is possible you’d run both again?
Todd Pletcher: It is possible, yes.
Jennie Rees: Todd, the mention of Charming Kitten got me thinking. How many horses do you have for the Ramseys right now?
Todd Pletcher: We’ve got—we got in a few babies this year as well, so I think he’s the only older horse, or three-year-old, and we have I think six babies.
Jennie Rees: I just wondered, because obviously he’s been very vocal about trying to dislodge Mike Repole as the winningest owner at Saratoga. Ken Ramsey gets pretty motivated about these things. Just sort of your thoughts on having two colorful owners in the barn that might both be going for the owner’s title, and how does that—does that impact (cross talking) at all?
Todd Pletcher: I think Mike actually kind of—last year after the meet was over, kind of decided, you know, that he wasn’t going to put the same emphasis on winning the owner title this year as he had in the past. So, you know, I don’t think he’s conceded it necessarily, we’ll try to do the best we can, but right now I don’t think Mike’s totally focused on winning the owner’s title, so I don’t anticipate we’ll have the volume of runners in order to really do it. You’d have to bat at an extremely high percentage.
Jennie Rees: Okay, thanks.
Penelope Miller: All right, up next we have trainer Michael Matz, whose charge And Why Not is set for the Delaware Handicap. Michael is perhaps most famous for training 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, as well as the 2012 Belmont victor Union Rags. Additionally, he can claim 2005 Arlington Million winner Kicken Kris and the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, now known as the Ladies’ Classic winner Round Pond in his stable. Michael brings a wealth of equine knowledge to his training barn. He was a member of the United States Olympic Equestrian Team in 1976, 1992, and 1996, and was chosen to carry the American flag at the 1996 closing ceremonies. Additionally, Michael Matz was honored as a Person of The Week by ABC News for his heroism in saving four children from the wreckage of the crash of United Airlines Flight 232 in 1989. I believe we are still waiting to get Michael on the line. At this time we will go on hold until we have him.
Penelope Miller: Excellent. Can you tell us a little bit about how And Why Not is training?
Michael Matz: Well, right now she had a little rest over the wintertime and we brought her back and she ran a real nice race in the Obeah, and I think that, you know, a mile and a quarter is a good distance for her.
Penelope Miller: Awesome, and as a trainer who’s based in the Mid-Atlantic Region, what makes the Delaware Handicap a special race for you?
Michael Matz: Well, it’s a lot of money, that’s for sure, and for one thing, the distance. This filly needs a—she needs a lot of distance.
Danny Brewer: What led you to want to take a shot here? It’s distance, but is there something with the horse that you feel that she is just right, that this is a great spot for her, besides the distance?
Michael Matz: Well, I think that’s the biggest thing, the distance for her, and she ran a real nice race in the Obeah. You know, she’s been—she’s one of those horses where probably if it’s an allowance race or a stakes race, she’s going to run the way she wants to run, and the biggest thing is the distance in the race. She’s got the—you know, she’s run well as a two-year-old. I know she’s only won one race, but she’s been close a bunch of times.
Danny Brewer: I don’t think—she hasn’t won since 2011, and obviously, the Del Handicap, you know it’s going to come in tough. So do you feel like this is a great spot to take a shot?
Michael Matz: There’s not too many horses that go around and can run a mile and a quarter, and one thing I know, this horse can run a mile and a quarter. She had a real nice race over the track the last time, and —for one thing, my mother-in-law wants to try it.
Danny Brewer: Well, and if the mother-in-law says it, then that’s the way it goes, right?
Michael Matz: That’s the way it goes.
Penelope Miller: Michael, at this point are you planning on taking some horses up to Saratoga?
Michael Matz: Yes. They left today.
Penelope Miller: And how many are you sending up there?
Michael Matz: We have 11 stalls.
Penelope Miller: Excellent. Any specific races that you’re pointing toward at the moment?
Michael Matz: Well, we’re going to look at the Diana, possibly, for Somali Lemonade, and basically we have a couple of New York breds that we took up there, and also quite a few two-year-olds.
Penelope Miller: I was wondering, with Saratoga’s 150th Anniversary being celebrated this year, is there anything that really stands out in your thoughts about Saratoga’s meet, and the Spa in general?
Michael Matz: Well, the purses are very good. You know, other than—I mean, it looks like it’s going to always be a premiere meet, the purses are very well and everybody, you know, is trying to do good at Saratoga.
Penelope Miller: Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for joining us this afternoon and I wish you the best of luck in the Delaware Handicap.
Penelope Miller: Okay, up next we have jockey Chantal Sutherland joining us. Chantal has many talents, including her skill in riding races. She’s also an actress and model, she has (inaudible), and is the face of Del Mar’s 2013 marketing campaign. Among her riding accomplishments are victories in the Santa Anita Handicap, the Hollywood Gold Cup, and she was also the first woman to ride in the $10 million Dubai World Cup. Additionally, Chantal has been featured in Sports Illustrated, Vogue, and was selected as one of People’s 100 most beautiful people. She also appeared in HBO’s horse racing (inaudible) series Luck, and was one of the stars of Animal Planet’s reality series Jockeys. Chantal retired from racing in October of 2012, but has since returned to the saddle in June of this year, and will be riding at Del Mar in the first race on tomorrow’s opening day.
Penelope Miller: Thank you so much for joining us. Can you tell us a little bit about what spending the summer at Del Mar means to you, since coming out of retirement?
Chantal Sutherland: It’s really exciting, I’m looking forward to it, and just a renewed, fresh—refreshed sense of energy.
Penelope Miller: Absolutely, and what is it that makes Del Mar a special place for you, and for fans as well?
Chantal Sutherland: Probably the fans. It’s just—they’re amazing and their energy level is really high, and it’s exciting, and then everybody dresses up, and then the horses are all geared up for this meet. There are larger field sizes, which is good for jockeys like me. And the whole town, the vibe, the ocean, the sand, the breeze, it just feels so good to be there.
Danny Brewer: Fantastic. Listen, when you hung it up, they said, “Chantal, what are you going to do?” You said, “I’m going to get a cheeseburger.” All right? Now that you’re back as a jockey, are you—is it to the tofu now, or what’s happening there?
Chantal Sutherland: It’s funny you said that. We had tuna sashimi last night.
Danny Brewer: As far as Del Mar, you and Penelope touched on it a little bit, the specialness of Del Mar. Is it something that you can really grasp, if you haven’t been there?
Chantal Sutherland: Ah, no. You have to go there.
Danny Brewer: And what was one of the biggest things that you missed about being a jockey that has brought you back into this wonderful sport?
Chantal Sutherland: The horses. I missed competing and going fast. I missed the adrenaline rush. And I kind of—you know, I missed all the camaraderie in the jockeys room, you know. It used to be annoying that they would tease me, but then you miss all your friends, and they kind of are family, because I spend more time with them that anybody. And I miss going out in the mornings and just stand on horses in the morning as well, and just being in the wide open space, and I missed the horses galloping and running around, and miss horses, and the excitement—it’s cool.
Danny Brewer: Now, as far as—you haven’t been out of the game that long. Picking up mounts, do you think you’re going to have any problem, or have you already got quite a bit lined up for the Del Mar meet?
Chantal Sutherland: You know, it’s hard to gauge at this point. I’ve been working a lot of horses, but you know this industry is pretty fickle, and I think, you know, I have a lot of work to do, because I have no business coming in to Del Mar, really, so I just hope I get the horses and the trainers, and if I don’t, well, I’ll try my best and hope for the best. You know, I’m happy doing it, I’m just happy to be back.
Danny Brewer: Well, you’ve been pretty successful and I think winning will probably be the best advertisement that you can do. Would you agree with that?
Chantal Sutherland: Yes.
Danny Brewer: Well, I certainly do wish you the best of luck, and as a turf writer, hey, we’re glad to have you back in the sport, okay?
Chantal Sutherland: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
Penelope Miller: Chantal, you tweeted some pictures a couple days ago of you getting ready for the Del Mar meet. You mentioned an arm wrestling match. Is that something that actually might happen?
Chantal Sutherland: I don’t know, we were just joking around, my husband and I, but, yes, I mean, we’d do it. Maybe if I was doing two hands I could beat him, but maybe not, I don’t know.
Penelope Miller: Taking a look at the picture, it looks like you’re pretty thick. Can you tell us a little bit about what you did to get ready to get back in the saddle?
Chantal Sutherland: Well, I’m always larger, even when I wasn’t racing, but then getting lean again is, you know, really being careful of what I eat and how I see—you know, I’ve always been into nutrition, but I spoke to one nutritionist and they were really adamant that I start drinking a gallon of water a day, and so I’ve been doing it, and it’s really helped. Sometimes I don’t drink a whole gallon, but I try my best. And I find it’s really cleansing, and I’ve lost some weight doing it. And then just, you know, my regular visits to the gym. I train 45 to 60 minutes cardio and then I do like 25 minutes of mostly upper body, because my lower body’s pretty buff. So, you know, thick enough.
Penelope Miller: I imagine it’s a great excitement to be going back and getting started at Del Mar. What are you most looking forward to about tomorrow?
Chantal Sutherland: Well, you know, I was looking forward to tomorrow to ride, but I think Rafael Bejarano—I was an alternate, so Rafael Bejarano is going to ride that horse I was going to ride tomorrow. I’ll be riding Thursday, but I’ll still go to (inaudible) for a little bit. But what I am looking forward to in racing is just getting back into that competitive mode, and in the zone, and just being in a race, and you know, kicking butt.
Penelope Miller: Absolutely. Well, we thank you so much for joining us this afternoon on the call, and I wish you the best of luck at Del Mar this summer.
Chantal Sutherland: Thank you very much.
Penelope Miller: That concludes our national media teleconference for the Road to the Breeders’ Cup. We would like to thank our guests Todd Pletcher, Michael Matz, and Chantal Sutherland.